Investigations into the recruitment of the OPM officer’s daughter are ongoing


Yehyun Kim :: CT mirror

Chief Attorney Richard J. Colangelo Jr. at a July press conference.

The government of Governor Ned Lamont has hired former US Attorney Stanley A. Twardy Jr. and two other lawyers from Day Pitney to investigate “possible inconvenience to government officials and possibly others.”

Chief Prosecutor Richard Colangelo Jr. said Thursday that a focus of investigation was the circumstances surrounding his hiring of Anastasia Diamantis, daughter of Kostantinos “Kosta” Diamantis, one of the budget officers Colangelo recently lobbied for a raise Show received emails.

Colangelo said he and the Criminal Justice Department welcome the investigation.

“It has never been inappropriate in hiring Miss Diamantis or any of my assistants and the department is keen to resolve the matter,” said Colangelo.

Kosta Diamantis was also the deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, an unclassified political position, and the director of the Office of School Construction Grants and Review, a secret job involving civil service protection.

On October 28, Diamantis was removed from the office of governor from the office of the OPM and suspended from the school construction site with payment. Instead of accepting the suspension, Diamantis withdrew.

Emails received by the CT Mirror under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that Anastasia Diamantis was hired as a Colangelo unsuccessfully pushing state officials, including Diamantis, to secure pay increases for prosecutors to help whoever they were called to address long-standing differences compared to public defenders and others.

They also show that Anastasia Diamantis, a government employee since 2015, was in a part-time job with a school construction management company for several years. She kept the job for at least 14 months after joining Colangelo’s office on July 3, 2020 as an executive assistant for $ 99,000 a year.

When Colangelo hired her, she had been in the Rehabilitation Services Department for nearly five years, first as the commissioner’s secretary and then as a disability claims review assistant. She holds a Masters in Elementary Education from Fairfield University and a BS in Psychology from Sacred Heart University.

Questions about their attitudes were first raised in a column published October 1 by The Hartford Courant. The emails received from CT Mirror contain previously unreported details about Colangelo’s lobbying for a raise and Anastasia Diamantis’ second job with construction company Construction Advocacy Professionals, which represents property owners on site inspections.

Colangelo said his hiring of Anastasia Diamantis was not and should not appear to be a conflict since the Department of Administrative Services is the authority in drawing up compensation plans for the Criminal Justice Department, not OPM.

“I wasn’t worried about that,” he says.

Nevertheless, it was Kosta Diamantis who informed him in writing on May 21, 2020, shortly before his daughter had applied for the position as criminal justice lawyer, that the OPM could not follow his application for tax reasons. Colangelo continued to advocate the raises for Diamantis and OPM Secretary Melissa McCaw after Anastasia Diamantis started working for him in July 2020.

In an August 31, 2020 email, he told Kosta that the salary scale is pushing down the number of prosecutor applications: there were only five vacancies in the Hartford and Stamford-Norwalk judicial districts.

“Kosta, here is the number of applicants we had. We really need to correct the non-movement from 35 to 40 hours for this group, ”wrote Colangelo. “You can see how badly the number of applicants has hurt. I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss this with you. “

Administration is silent on the scope of the investigation

It is unclear whether Twardy’s investigation extends beyond Diamantis’ appointment by Colangelo.

The state contract with Twardy, signed on November 15, contains few details on the scope of the work: “The contractor will act as outside legal counsel to conduct a factual investigation on behalf of the governorship into possible inappropriateness by state employees.” And possibly others and, as requested, to submit legal analyzes and recommendations for possible further measures. “

The contract was limited to $ 75,000 and it was foreseen that Twardy conduct 12 to 15 interviews without naming the subjects, although referring to future instructions: “A more detailed description of the services is provided in a ‘job description, to be supplied separately ‘ provided. ”

The Lamont administration declined to submit the job description citing legal confidentiality or to discuss the investigation in detail.

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Konstantinos Diamantis, then director of the Office of School Construction Grants.

Kosta Diamantis, a former Bristol Democratic official who was hired for the school construction job in 2015 and took on the additional OPM job in 2019, said Thursday that he believes the paper trail from emails and other documents shows there is no undue influence on the employment of his daughter.

He did not give an opinion on who could be interviewed.

“I have no idea why you waste so much time and energy with the emails speaking for themselves,” Diamantis said. “My counter-question would be, ‘What is in the email that suggests I’ve done something inappropriate? What i didn’t do. And so, my next part of it is, if it’s not inappropriate, then you want to keep digging to ask questions so they can find something inappropriate? “

He hired a lawyer, Norm Pattis, who was unavailable for comment.

Diamantis left the civil service with a damning assessment of the governor’s officers, and the governor’s office indicated that retaining outside lawyers was intended as a mark of impartiality.

“In order to ensure a complete and thorough review without possible claims of partiality, an independent lawyer was hired,” said Max Reiss, the governor’s communications director, in a statement sent by email. “This independent investigation is ongoing. The governor’s office will not make any further comments as this is an ongoing review. “

In an interview with CT Mirror the night he retired, Diamantis criticized the governor’s top aides: Paul Mounds, the chief of staff; Josh Geballe, the chief operating officer; and Nora Dannehy, the General Counsel. He complained that they were disregarding McCaw, the OPM secretary.

Twardy’s contract was signed by Attorney General William Tong, not Dannehy or anyone else in the governor’s office. Dannehy, on the other hand, is listed as a contact person for the office of governor.

Twardy also served as chief of staff to former Governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who served from 1991 to 1995.

“I applaud any review of the recruitment process because I know the outcome will allow us to move on and continue to focus on the very important work the department does each day to serve the people of Connecticut,” said Colangelo who oversees a department that employs more than 500 people.

OPM, in which Diamantis was influential, neither had the authority to create the position of executive assistant assigned to his daughter, nor could it address it unilaterally Colangelo’s complaint that prosecutors’ salaries weren’t changed when the state switched them from 35- to 40-hour weeks decades ago, Colangelo said.

The commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services and McCaw, the secretary of the OPM, would have to sign off. However, OPM is viewed as a place where recruitment, the domain of DAS, can be slowed down, especially during times of fiscal trouble.

Colangelo said OPM played no role in authorizing the position of executive assistant that went to Anastasia Diamantis.

“The executive assistant positions were created through DAS with the criminal justice division,” said Colangelo, who took over the division in January. “They went into effect on March 13, 2020. They were created long before I met Anastasia.”

She emailed her résumé to Colangelo on June 9, 2020. She referred to an earlier conversation and said: “You will find attached my curriculum vitae according to your request.”

About two weeks earlier, it was her father who brought bad news to Colangelo about the compensation plan.

“OPM currently estimates the General Fund to have a deficit of $ 620 million in FY2020, $ 2.4 billion in FY2021, and likely in excess of $ 3 billion in FY2022 based on the current consensus estimate of the long-term impact the pandemic is affecting the state’s economy and revenue, “wrote Diamantis Colangelo on May 21. “That is why we are currently unable to meet your request for higher remuneration.”

In an interview on Thursday, Colangelo said the shortage of applicants in his office had worsened.

“That became critical to me when we filled the New London State attorney,” he said. The department received three applications, only two from candidates who met the qualifications.

Colangelo said he would continue to seek higher compensation for prosecutors.

A part-time job in school construction

Colangelo said he knew about Anastasia Diamantis’ part-time position with the construction management company and that sideline employment was permissible.

Antonietta DiBenedetto-Roy, the owner of the construction management company, said Diamantis worked for her on projects in Rhode Island, including avoiding potential conflicts with her father’s role in overseeing construction grants. However, emails show that the younger Diamantis helped the company document a Connecticut project on at least a few occasions.

Diamantis is no longer employed by DiBenedetto-Roy, but she refused to say so when Diamantis left.

Anastasia Diamantis did not respond to requests for comment.

Some of Diamantis’ private emails became government records because they were copied to her government email address. The last email she sent on behalf of Construction Advocacy Professionals was dated September 17, 2021 and related to a list of school and financial contacts in Rhode Island that she had compiled for the company.

But Anastasia Diamantis was copied in an email exchange between her father and DiBenedetto-Roy regarding government documentation on the Birch Grove Primary School project in Tolland in July 2019, a project that was being accelerated to restore a school through a crumbling foundation to replace that was undermined by Pyrrhotite. a mineral that expands when wet. Her father said he couldn’t remember why he copied it.

She also exchanged emails with DiBenedetto about the Tolland project twice during the state working day in September 2020.

On Friday September 4, 2020, DiBenedetto asked them to create a table with the subcontractors of the Tolland School’s general contractor, D’Amato Construction of Bristol. Diamantis sent her the material the following Tuesday at 3:23 p.m. Two weeks later, Diamantis replied to another email documenting the Tolland project.

“It could have been something she was just helping me file with,” DiBenedetto-Roy said. “Because she worked exclusively for me in Rhode Island.”

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